US shares close lower on threat of a shutdown

Capitol Hill The US federal government could start to shut down on Tuesday

Related Stories

Shares in New York closed lower as the prospect of a shutdown of some US government activities looks increasingly likely.

The Dow Jones closed down 128 points, or 0.84%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell by 0.60% and 0.27% respectively.

However, all three indexes were up for the month, buoyed by a strengthening US economic recovery.

The US needs to agree a new spending bill before the financial year ends at midnight on Tuesday.

But political divisions have resulted in a stalemate and there are worries over the economic impact of a shutdown of the US government.

"The shutdown will have a very real economic impact on very real people right away," said US president Barack Obama late on Monday, after it seemed as if negotiations had all but broken down.

Start Quote

For all the absence of any big economic or financial shocks for the best part of two years, substantial accidents can still happen, in a global economy that remains structurally flawed in a serious and substantive way”

End Quote

If the government does shut down on 1 October, as many as a third of its 2.1 million employees are expected to stop work - with no guarantee of back pay once the deadlock is resolved.

National parks and Washington's Smithsonian museums would close, pension and veterans' benefit cheques would be delayed, and visa and passport applications would be stymied.

Programmes deemed essential, such as air traffic control and food inspections, would continue.

Unemployment report

Investors will be keen to know if Friday's job report will be released.

The monthly non-farm payrolls report is one of the most closely watched pieces of US economic data.

Employees at the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), who prepare the report, would be among those who would stood down in the event of a shutdown.

Shutdown graphic Significant US government activities could be hit by a shutdown

"All survey and other programme operations will cease and the public website will not be updated," said Erica Groshen, commissioner of the BLS, said in a memo published on the department's website.

Deadlock

Republicans are targeting President Barack Obama's healthcare law, popularly known as Obamacare.

Early on Sunday, the Republican-run House of Representatives passed an amended version of the Senate spending bill that removed funding for the healthcare law.

That bill was roundly rejected by the US Senate as soon as members returned on Monday.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 54-46 against the bill.

"It will be a Republican government shutdown, pure and simple," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, referring to the Republicans as "bullies".

"We are not going to negotiate on this. We have done everything we can to be fair and reasonable."

After the vote, Republican House Speaker John Boehner told reporters his chamber would re-evaluate the proposal, but it remained unclear if Mr Boehner could convince members of his party to change their position in any meaningful way.

Mr Obama echoed Mr Reid's concerns, saying that "one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the government".

Market Data

Last Updated at 07:17 ET

Market index Current value Trend Variation % variation
Dow Jones 17827.75 Up 12.81 0.07%
Nasdaq 4787.32 Up 29.07 0.61%
S&P 500 2072.83 Up 5.80 0.28%
FTSE 100 6683.34 Down -40.08 -0.60%
Dax 9942.63 Down -32.24 -0.32%
BBC Global 30 7899.09 Down -6.87 -0.09%
Uncertain Italy

Meanwhile European financial markets have been upset by a deepening political crisis in Italy.

Italian shares closed down 1.2% and the euro fell to the lowest level since June against the Swiss Franc.

Italy's 10-year bond yield - an indication of how much the government has to pay to borrow money - rose as high as 4.66%, the highest level in more than three months.

Start Quote

There would be a fairly big impact on the economy. Economists estimate that a two-week shutdown could cut GDP growth by 0.3 percentage points.”

End Quote

Prime Minister Enrico Letta plans to hold a confidence vote on Wednesday, to seek the backing of Italy's parliament.

He was forced to make that move after five ministers from Silvio Berlusconi's party stepped down at the weekend.

But those ministers have now given mixed signals as to whether they are actually leaving the government.

The crisis follows weeks of worsening ties between Mr Berlusconi's party and Mr Letta's grouping.

Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) objects to a planned increase in sales tax, which is part of a wider government policy to reduce big public debts.

'Fear of the unknown'

Earlier on Monday, Worries over the US shutdown had hit Asian shares.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed 2% lower, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.5%, Australia's ASX fell 1.7%, while South Korea's Kospi shed 0.7%

"It is the fear of the unknown," said David Kuo of financial website the Motley Fool. "No one knows what is really going to happen and markets don't like uncertainty."

"There is likely to be some reduction in US government spending, but we don't know what areas are going to be affected.

"Until that is resolved, we are likely to see volatility in the markets," he added.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    12:14: Revenge evictions

    MPs are trying to change the law to stop landlords carrying out "revenge evictions" against tenants who complain about the state of their property. At the moment landlords can enforce a "no-fault eviction" in retaliation against someone who complains about dangerous or damp conditions - something more than 2,000 people are thought to have been affected by. Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather is leading efforts to change the law so landlords won't be allowed to evict a tenant for no reason within six months of receiving an improvement or hazard awareness notice.

     
  2.  
    12:09: India expands

    India is experiencing the sort of growth that makes Europe go green with envy. In the second quarter (July -September), the economy expanded by 5.3%. This was lower compared to the first quarter, when the economy grew by 5.7%.

     
  3.  
    11:43: Black Friday

    But Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, has added: "Across Greater Manchester large supermarkets already make significant demands on policing through calls to shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and thefts of fuel from their petrol stations - much of which is preventable. We just ask these stores to work with us to reduce the demands on policing and reduce the risks of disorder and crime."

     
  4.  
    11:31: Black Friday

    A Tesco spokesperson has told the BBC: "Over 600 Tesco stores have Black Friday offers available in store. In the interest of customer safety a small number of these stores contacted police last night to help control crowds safely and stores are now trading normally."

     
  5.  
    11:16: Black Friday

    Greater Manchester Police, who were called to seven Tesco stores last night and made three arrests, are not happy. Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, said: "The events of last night were totally predictable and I am disappointed that stores did not have sufficient security staff on duty."

     
  6.  
    11:08: Brazil's avoids recession
    Brazil

    Brazil's economy has recovered in the past three months - but only slightly. It expanded 0.1% - narrowly avoiding recession. In the previous quarter, it contracted by 0.6%.

     
  7.  
    11:00: House prices

    Average UK house prices rose by just 0.1% in October, according to figures released by the Land Registry today. The average property was worth £177,377 in the month, it says. However, the Land Registry index, which is based on the prices at which properties are actually sold, also shows that UK prices rose 7.7% over the year. In London, they rose by 18.6% in the last 12 months.

     
  8.  
    Via Twitter Jonty Bloom Business correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "The number of people killed by cold weather last winter was the lowest since records began, official statistics show."

     
  9.  
    10:48: Eurozone unemployment
    Eurostat

    This graph shows how the unemployment rates in the eurozone, wider EU, the US and Japan compare since 2000. As you can see, the EU and US reached similarly high levels at the height of the financial crisis, but the US has fared a lot better since.

     
  10.  
    10:34: Black Friday

    Alan Cameron from Aberdeen emails: "Black Friday is designed to appeal to the worst off in society, and is about unashamedly exploiting naked greed and desires in society."

     
  11.  
    Black Friday Willard Foxton

    tweets: "Piketty's 'Capital in the 21st century' is 65% off in Amazon UK's Black Friday sale. Someone has a sense of humor!"

     
  12.  
    10:22: Cameron immigration speech

    Mr Cameron gets to the crux of his speech. "I will insist that in the future those who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum of four years," he says. "If their child is living abroad, then there should be no child benefit or child tax credit at all no matter how long they have worked in the UK and no matter how much tax they have paid. And we will introduce a new residency requirement for social housing - meaning that you can't even be considered for a council house unless you have been here for at least four years."

     
  13.  
    10:20: Black Friday

    Retail analyst Nick Bubb says Black Friday is likely to "bring forward business from December, reduce gross margins and undermine consumer's willingness to pay full-price again before Christmas. It is therefore good to see that Next are thinking long-term and preserving their pricing power..."

     
  14.  
    10:15: Eurozone unemployment

    Separate figures show that the average rate of unemployment in the 18 countries in the eurozone remained at 11.5%, despite the economy's deterioration.

     
  15.  
    10:08: Eurozone inflation

    A preliminary estimate for the level of inflation (that's the rise in the prices of everyday goods and services) in Europe shows a drop to 0.3% in November - down from 0.4% the month before. Falling oil prices accounted for much of that drop, but the slow creep toward deflation will add further pressure on the European Central Bank, which targets inflation of 2%.

     
  16.  
    10:00: Cameron immigration speech

    "Put simply, our job is to educate and train up our youth, so we are less reliant on immigration to fill our skills gap," says the PM. "And any politician who doesn't have a serious plan for welfare and education, has no sensible long-term plan for controlling immigration."

     
  17.  
    09:58: Cameron immigration speech

    "For the sake of British jobs, British livelihoods and British opportunities we must fight this dangerous and misguided view that our nation can withdraw from the world and somehow all will be well."

     
  18.  
    09:58: Cameron immigration speech
    Cameron

    "We are Great Britain because of immigration, not in spite of it," says David Cameron in his opening salvo. "Throughout our long history, we have always looked outward, not inward. We have used the seas that surround our shores not to cut ourselves off from the world, but to reach out to it - to carry our trade to the four corners of the earth. And with that trade has come people, companies, jobs and investment."

     
  19.  
    09:44: Black Friday

    John Lewis says it is currently selling one Nutribullet every 30 seconds. For the uninitiated, that's a food processor, or juicer, if you prefer.

     
  20.  
    09:28: Italian jobs

    Unemployment in Italy has reached a record high of 13.2%, according to official figures for the month of October. It's the largest percentage since figures were first collected in 1977. Even worse news for 15-24 year olds in the country - 43.3% were unemployed last month.

     
  21.  
    Black Friday Sgt Paul Marshall, Kingston Police

    tweets: "Even on #BlackFriday shoving people to the floor so you can get £20 off a Coffee Maker is still an assault."

     
  22.  
    09:12: Markets update

    European markets are lower this morning on the back of falling oil prices, which are nearing $70 a barrel. They've not been that low in four years.

    • The FTSE 100 is lower by 0.74% at 6673
    • Germany's Dax is lower by 0.47% 9928
    • France's Cac-40 is lower by 0.53% at 4359
     
  23.  
    09:05: House prices
    Graph showing house price growth since November 2004

    The annual house price has been falling since June, when growth peaked at 11.4%. Now it's only 8.5% higher than this time last year. It's worth remembering that house price growth is coming off a low base as well. Property values (that's the average for the whole of the UK) only began to rise in the summer of 2013, as the effects of the Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes began to be felt.

     
  24.  
    Black Friday Kadhim Shubber, reporter at the FT
    Asda

    tweets: "Unleash the capitalism #BlackFriday" (Click through for the full Vine video)

     
  25.  
    Black Friday Bryan Roberts, director at Kantar Retail
    Asda

    There are cheerleaders in Asda. Really. Bryan tweets: "Cheerleaders. This is my job. Honest."

     
  26.  
    08:24: Building Lego
    Malaysia Lego

    UK theme park operator Merlin Entertainments has announced it will open a new Legoland... in South Korea. The attraction is expected to open its doors in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province by 2017. There is already a Legoland in Malaysia, and the firm plans to build one in Dubai too.

     
  27.  
    Black Friday Bryan Roberts, director at Kantar Retail

    tweets: "6 minutes ago, this was a massive pile of TVs"

    TVs
     
  28.  
    Black Friday Sarah Butler, The Guardian

    tweets: "Crazy queues at Asda, but all calm and very British queue in place... So far"

    Black Friday
     
  29.  
    08:10: Black Friday

    Richard Main, a reporter at BBC London 94.9, emails in: "More than 150 people are now queuing to get into Asda on Edgware Road, in the hope of bagging a Black Friday deal. Police were called to the store in the early hours of the morning to control crowds. The current queue now stretches the length of the car park and is being penned in by a wall of shopping trolleys."

     
  30.  
    Black Friday Greater Manchester Police

    tweet: "At least two people arrested at #BlackFriday sales events already this morning. Keep calm people!"

     
  31.  
    08:02: Black Friday
    People sort through boxes of shoes in Macy"s

    A bit of Friday fun now. We want your best/worst Black Friday deals. What's the most ridiculous sale item you've seen or bought? What's be best/worst discount you've seen? Have you seen punch-ups over the last sale item or is everyone queuing politely? Send your stories/pictures/experiences/views of Black Friday to bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

     
  32.  
    07:45: Betting campaign BBC Radio 4
    Betting terminal

    The maximum stake on gambling machines known as "fixed odd betting terminals" is £100. Many think that's outrageous, as it's possible to lose an awful lot of money in a very short time. Now more than 90 councils in Britain are campaigning to have that reduced dramatically - to £2. Sir Robin Wales, the mayor of Newham in London, tells Today that gambling firms deliberately target poorer areas.

     
  33.  
    07:34: House prices
    Graph showing the average house price to average earnings ratio

    One thing to note in the latest Nationwide figures is the price-to-earnings ratio, which has tailed off ever so slightly. This measures how high house prices are, relative to the average person's salary. The higher the ratio rises, the less affordable housing becomes. Since WW2, each time average house prices have reached six times average earnings, there as been a crash.

     
  34.  
    07:22: House prices

    The price of an average house in the UK rose by 0.3% in November to £189,388, according to the latest figures from Nationwide. Overall, however, the growth in house prices slowed to 8.5%, when compared to November of last year. It was 9% in October.

     
  35.  
    07:12: Energy penalties
    Drax

    "We are deeply disappointed with the magnitude of the fine," said Drax boss Dorothy Thompson. But Ofgem's Sarah Harrison says the firm "missed its target by a clear margin" and accuses it of "disadvantaging several thousand households in some of the most deprived areas in Britain".

     
  36.  
    07:06: Energy penalties

    Another generation firm, Intergen, is also facing an £11m payout. The companies failed to meet targets to insulate homes under two energy efficiency schemes that ran until the end of 2012. The failings meant that households did not receive the energy saving measures, which would have helped to reduce their bills.

     
  37.  
    07:00: Energy penalties

    The power generation company Drax, based in North Yorkshire, has been hit with a £28m financial penalty after failing to meet targets to provide energy efficiency measures to homes. It's the largest penalty ever handed down by the energy regulator Ofgem.

     
  38.  
    06:58: Black Friday Radio 5 live

    Ms Burge tells Wake Up to Money that over the last couple of years retailers and consumers have "engaged in a game of chicken". Consumers have started holding out on retailers, she says, in the knowledge that the closer they get to Christmas, the more likely they will be to get a deal as retailers start discounting.

     
  39.  
    06:45: Tech terms

    More from Andrew Miller on tech firms' terms and conditions. "They are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand," says the Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston.

     
  40.  
    Via Twitter NASA
    Pic of a star being sucked into a black hole

    If you don't really get all this Black Friday stuff, it's not really your bag or the fact that the spirit of Christmas has been lost in worship to Mammon is getting you down, NASA has a solution for you. It tweets: "It's #BlackFriday, but for us, it's the 2nd annual #BlackHoleFriday. Today, we'll post pics & info about black holes".

     
  41.  
    06:32: Tech terms

    The chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, Andrew Miller, told the BBC: "I simply cannot say to a constituent of mine I know with 100% certainty what they're doing with that data because frankly I don't understand those legal terms and conditions".

     
  42.  
    06:26: Tech terms

    MPs are calling for social networking companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to explain more clearly to users what they do with information collected about them. The Commons Science Committee says the firms' terms and conditions agreements are far too long and complex for any reasonable person to read.

     
  43.  
    Via Twitter Alistair Charlton, senior technology reporter at IBTimes UK
    Black Friday

    tweets: "Tesco website down, Currys website down, shopping chaos caught on video. It's #BlackFriday."

     
  44.  
    06:12: Black Friday Radio 5 live

    Natalie Burge, retail analyst at Planet Retail, says Black Friday is a "really strange phenomenon, but it makes sense in the US" because it comes after a public holiday - a bit like Boxing Day. Whereas in the UK it's just another day. Black Friday falls on "the day of the last pay cheque before Christmas" so retailers are spotting an opportunity to get consumers to part with their hard earned cash, she adds.

     
  45.  
    06:04: Black Friday

    Shareholders among you may still recoil at the term "Black Friday" - the name given to the stock market crash of October 13, 1989. But fear not, in the shopping context, the name has no such negative connotations. It's called Black Friday because many shops make enough money to put them "in the black" for the year, apparently.

     
  46.  
    06:00: Black Friday
    Black Friday

    Police were called to a number of supermarkets across the UK last night, amid concern about the size of crowds waiting for the doors to open on what's become one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Increasing numbers of British retailers are adopting the American tradition of reducing some of their prices for Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving. Some websites are already reported to be struggling to cope with demand.

     
  47.  
    06:00: Matthew West, Business Reporter

    As always, you can get in touch by emailing bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweeting @BBCBusiness.

     
  48.  
    06:00: Joe Miller Business Reporter

    Good morning. In a long-awaited speech later, David Cameron will call for major changes to the benefits that can be claimed by European Union migrants. He'll say they should have to wait four years before they can claim in-work benefits such as tax credits, or be eligible for social housing. We'll bring you more on that, and the rest of the business news throughout the morning.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.